Parrot and Olivier in America

Reading Time: 3 minutes

by Peter Carey

Parrot & Oliver in America is a wonderful book. The writing is incredible. It jumps off the page and wraps itself around you and pulls you right into all the action and adventure. It is funny and touching and compelling throughout. What a treat it was to read!

The title characters are as different as they can be. Oliver-Jean-Baptiste de Clarel de Barfleur de Garmont was the son of a noble French family. He was born in 1805 to parents who had experienced the terrors of the French Revolution. His mother had lost her father to the guillotine, and continually feared the same cruel fate would befall her only son. Her fears and the nightmare of her memories caused her to keep a cool distance from Olivier who loved her and craved a closeness she couldn’t give.

   “I had no doubt that something cruel and catastrophic had happened before I was ever born, yet the comte and the comtesse, my parents, would not tell me what it was. As a result my organ of curiosity was made irritable and I grew into the most restless and unhealthy creature imaginable—slight, pale, always climbing, prying into every drain and attic of the Chateau de Barfleur.”

Olivier grew up in Normandy, in exile with his parents. He be